A national discussion about whether President Obama believes that same-sex marriage should be legal is probably not where his campaign wanted to be just one day after officially launching its re-election campaign. But that was the reality this past Sunday. Minutes after Vice President Biden's interview on Meet the Press, Advisor David Axelrod tweeted that Biden had not made news. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters more than a dozen times that there was no update on the President's "evolving" view on gay marriage. Compounding the issue, another cabinet member, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, told Morning Joe that he supported same-sex marriage. The campaign found no one was talking about Mitt Romney’s position on marriage equality (which has evolved in the opposite direction, it seems), and was instead fending off demands for a definitive answer from the President.
But c'est la vie, and as Carney claims the President's view "is as it was," Vice President Biden is as he’s always been. So now in the thick of that debate, the question is whether running with a pro-gay matrimony plank in the President's platform would help or hurt him. America is rapidly warming to the idea of gay and lesbian couples saying "I do." Polling from NBC News and the Wall Street journal finds over the past eight years that there has been a dramatic shift the nation’s perspective. In March 2004, 62% of Americas opposed same-sex marriage, while just one-third supported it. This past March, 49% said gay marriage should be legal, while 40% opposed it. A new Gallup poll out today supports those numbers, with exactly half the country in support and 48% opposed.
So if President Obama announced that his views had fully evolved and he began a push for legalizing gay marriage, half of the country would be on board with him, according to those polls. It could galvanize those voters to get to the voting booth and appease voices like Ruth Marcus who say dodging the question makes it look like the President is "hiding the ball from voters until after the election."
But there could be a trade-off. Today North Carolina is voting on a constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a women. In 2008, President Obama won North Carolina by just over 13,000 votes, and support for gay marriage this year could turn-off just enough independents to cost him the state.
Today on the show we talked about the President's delicate dance around marriage equality. Check out the clip below for more, as well as Rick Santorum's late-night endorsement of Mitt Romney.